COVID-19 takes mental toll on grad students

A pair of surveys find mental health issues on the rise among graduate students in the U.S. and Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Shubert Ciencia

A pair of surveys show the psychological toll that the novel coronavirus outbreak is having on graduate students. A study in the United States found signs of depression have doubled among grad students during the COVID-19 pandemic, and indications of anxiety have risen 50%. Depression was most common among students in the physical sciences. Signs of mental distress were more common among low-income students, Latino populations and students from sexual and gender minorities. Rates of depression were the same among women and men, but women were more likely to report anxiety symptoms.

A survey in Canada found 72% of grad students were experiencing worsening mental health. Respondents expressed concern about their ability to complete their degree and financial hardship. More than a quarter of respondents said they were considering a long leave of absence.

“It’s hard to feel like any of your work matters,” Mounica Kota, a PhD student in behavioral ecology at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, tells Nature.

Read more from Nature about the U.S. survey here, and the Canadian survey here.